Just Write. Damn it.
Note: This is a repost from my former blog, original post date 3/22/17.
Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of forcing creativity.
Then again, I’m normally not in a writing/creativity drought of hell.
I actually own a shirt that says "Write Every Day" with a majestic quill thrust through the words like a sword (that my sister-in-law got me at ComicCon 2016) and I've boasted about my super speedy writing skills from time-to-time. While I painfully cranked out, edited, and rewrote the first one hundred pages of LOOK NO FURTHER during a two-year timeframe (yikes!), I wrote the rest in nine weeks. Roughly from the start of June to the end of August. Ultimately, half that writing was scrapped and totally rewritten a year later. (So much of writing is learning when to highlight and click Delete.) But that's beside the point.
That summer post-MFA I wrote almost an entire novel, and I wrote every single day. I didn't let a day go by when I didn't "touch" my manuscript in some productive way. Nothing was forced because I loved the project I was working on. I wrote every day and it was natural. I can’t say it was good—in fact, some of it was damn awful, I have proof—but it happened. I felt accomplished. I didn’t feel the need to force myself to write because I wanted to do it more than anything else.
Clearly 2015 Amelia had a great mindset and a wonderful work ethic. Somewhere along the way, I totally lost it. Maybe it was the negatives, like my dad’s second widowmaker heart attack. Maybe it was something positive, like finding my partner in crime, my true counterpart in life. I don't know. Life changed, and my writing style changed with it.
While I did scrounge up some momentum last summer, it was largely due to Pitch Wars. When I got in, the pacing was super-fast and structured, an environment I thrive off of. PW ended, amazing things were happening, and yet I had trouble writing. Was it pressure? Depression? (Please note the actual definition of these two things is wickedly similar.) Was anxiety reigning supreme? Were my odd health problems becoming denizen overlords of my body?
As my last post stated, I fell into the funkiest of depressions towards the end of 2016 and start of 2017. I felt shitty for not writing, especially at the cusp of the New Year, when everyone had such aspirational writing goals for 2017. They were plastered over Twitter like guilt-creating confetti. And now, my friends, it's almost April. I feel like time got sucked into a vortex and the days/weeks/months have flown by. And yet, my writing has left something—everything—to be desired. Every time I clawed myself out of a funk, the lightest breeze toppled me back in.
Over the past three months, I developed an unhealthy relationship with Netflix, told myself I was doing the household a favor by clearing out the DVR and watching old episodes of shows I'd recorded X-months earlier; I even purchased new video games and worked on getting that perfect butt-couch imprint (you'd think after seven years of owning this couch that would've happened already, but nope!). I did pretty much everything but write. And when I forced myself to write, it felt like getting my gums scraped at the dentist.
So I gave up on forcing myself to write. It'd happen when it happened, right? Can’t force creativity, blah blah blah. I absolutely loathe this mindset. When you’re trying to be a fulltime writer, you can’t prescribe to this defeatist attitude. But I was rolling with it like a champ. Then my belated Christmas gift arrived. A Nintendo Switch, along with Zelda Breath of the Wild. Oh my god, that game is amazing. I want to marry it and have little Hylian babies. Anyway. I've probably logged a horrific number of hours into that game since it arrived at the beginning of the month. I'm legit afraid to look. Gaming took over watching Netflix/TV, and I continued not writing.
Notice a pattern yet?
I even went on a (not voluntary) vacation for my dad's birthday two weeks ago. There, among the palm trees, the guilt for not writing multiplied. My amazing family supports me while I write, and I've always made good on my promise to keep working. To keep chasing my dreams. Until, well, lately. We had a large group of family members at my family’s vacation home for my dad’s birthday, some of which I hadn’t seen since Christmas. So, telling family member upon family member about what I was up to (Er nothing? Trying to write? *cough* playing video games *cough*) drilled guilt into the marrow of my bones. To be clear, no one was actually making me feel guilty. I am so obviously my worst enemy. It's awful.
As I got settled at home again, I realized things needed to change. Even if just to assuage my guilt, I decided to write at least an hour a day (something very doable with my lifestyle). I found support from some of the best writerly friends I have. And I began forcing myself to sit down for an hour and just write. It wasn’t pretty, but it felt kind of productive.
Yesterday, something weird happened. I was watching TV—a network sitcom—while having my morning tea and in a backwards way, it gave me a new idea. Not like I need any more; I'm swimming in sea of WIP ideas. But this new idea really intrigued me. I sat down and wrote a brief outline and pitch. Took a shower. Came back and wrote 2,500 words. Feeling buoyant and confident, I went to play some Zelda, but gravity pulled me back to my desk an hour later, and I wrote another 1,500 words. After three months of barely writing 5,000 words, I wrote 4,000 words in one day. I doubt this is a pace I can keep up with (nor should I try to), but it feels really good to have words on proverbial paper. Even if you're so used to shiny finished manuscripts that zero drafts appear to be burning garbage fires.
So. Moral of this blurty mess? Sometimes forcing yourself to sit down and just write damn it has a surprisingly good outcome. (Also TV does inspire creativity.)
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